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Kai Ryssdal: There are some newspapers around the country that have gone completely digital, dropping the paper part altogether. Most of ’em, though, still hold to the hybrid model: A printed copy that lands on your doorstep every morning for a fee, and a free version online. There have been some hints that the iPad might change that dynamic. Early users do seem to be willing to pay for news online. That’s music to Rupert Murdoch’s ears. The CEO of News Corp. and owner of the Wall Street Journal has plans to breathe life into the newspaper business with a digital newspaper made just for tablet computers.
Janet Babin reports now from North Carolina Public Radio.
Janet Babin: News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch gushed about the iPad to an audience at the National Press Club back in April.
Rupert Murdoch: You know, I got a glimpse of the future with the iPad. It is a wonderful thing — it may well be the saving of the newspaper industry.
Marissa Gluck: Well, I think it’s a bit early to declare that.
That’s Marissa Gluck reacting to Murdoch. She’s managing partner at media consulting firm Radar Research. Gluck says the industry’s been so beaten down by digital technology, its desperate for a savior. But it’s too early to tell if the iPad will be it.
Gluck: We’re talking about a consumer behavior that is still evolving. We don’t know what consumers are willing to pay for newspapers on their iPad. We don’t know what newspapers should charge advertisers for being on the iPad.
Whatever the cost, everyone seems to crave the iPad’s touch-screen technology. Apple sold three million tablets in 80 days. The L.A. Times reports that Murdoch’s national tablet paper will hire several dozen reporters and editors. A News Corp. spokesman said the company would not comment.
Journalism Professor Chris Roush at the University of North Carolina says iPad papers may help the industry recoup revenue lost to online content.
Chris Roush: Murdoch starting an iPad-only paper is not going to solve all of our problems, but if everybody gets behind it and does it, then I think we might have something.
And he says, it would eliminate a newspaper’s single biggest expense — the paper it’s printed on.
I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.
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